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A Lesson in Creative Composition

By Chris Corradino on September 05, 2014


Showing more of the environment actually strengthens the overall impact of an image.

Here at NYIP, we often stress the importance of simplifying one’s composition. This is primarily accomplished by eliminating distractions from the frame. For most photographic situations, this is sound advice. There are some occasions however, where showing more of the environment actually strengthens the overall impact of an image. Scott Olson’s well-crafted photo reinforces this concept.

The subject of this photo is not solely the protestor, nor is it the array of heavily armored police. Instead, it’s a dynamic story about the struggle between the two. Both sides are dug in, firm in their beliefs. Through a clever use of composition, the viewer is presented with the protestor’s perspective. The eye travels along the yellow line to the imposing group of authorities. Clearly outnumbered, one has to wonder what will bring the standoff to an end.

The technical choices made by the photographer work to compliment his creative vision. A wide aperture is used to create shallow depth of field. The focus point was then placed on the police, rendering them sharp while leaving the protester slightly out of focus. A wide angle lens emphasizes the sheer number of officers standing by. Meanwhile, the man’s vulnerability is further expressed by the photographer’s decision to work from an extremely low angle on the road.

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About the Author

Chris Corradino is the head of the photography mentor program at NYIP. Just like all of our mentors, he is also a professional photographer. See Chris's lesson from last week for more.